Cuba Pt. 1: I’m Sexually Attracted to Havana

Hear me out on this one…

Time To Read: 4 mins | December 29, 2016

Is that possible? Can you be turned on by a city?

It’s not polished, Havana. Not clean or refined by any stretch. It’s like Harley Quinn — bonkers and filthy and mad, and also really, really sexy.

I’m not even sure I like the place yet. It’s only been twenty-four hours, and I’ve spent most of that time fighting a cold in a crap apartment – and this despite wearing my lucky white shirt on the flight in. I’ve got exactly one nice button down in my bag, and I, for no reason whatsoever, am convinced it’s the harbinger of good things. I’m very protective of this random garment.

But it’s failed so far. I’m too ill to leave my Airbnb for any significant stretch of time, so I know next to nothing about the neighborhood or the people, nor what I’m going to do the next few days. And yet, though I don’t know jack about the city, I do love staring at it.

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The lust starts while you’re still in customs.

A quick note to Americans: getting into Cuba is just like getting into any other country on Earth. You wait in a line longer than you think you should, you hand some uncomplicated paperwork to a grumpy official, and you’re ushered through without another word. All that talk of needing a reason to visit is nonsense. You check one of 12 boxes on a form stating why you’ve come to the country and it’s never mentioned again.

The one noticeable difference in Cuban customs, however, is the uniforms. The female security guards all have three things in common: amazing bodies, beige uniforms dried on high heat, and black fishnet stockings visible all the way to their asses. You’d think you were in the opening seconds of a porno, or maybe a John Carpenter movie. It’s how a horny teenager draws his fantasies in the back of a notebook, not how a government assigns clothing to it’s employees.

And that’s just the airport. Every woman on the street is rocking skin-tight clothing, dyed brightly enough to be seen from Florida. It seems that lady’s skirts must, by law, not stretch lower than bottom of their glutes. At it doesn’t matter if it’s 6:00pm or 6:00am, their make-up and hair is always done to the nines.

The men are in on the act, too. Surprisingly for a country ravaged by poverty, every guy on the street is wearing hyper-stylish clothing. Fitted tank tops, purposefully torn acid wash jeans, oversized reflective sunglasses and designer loafers. And holy shit, the hairstyles are insane. All of them have immaculate up-do’s that look to be freshly trimmed every 24 hours. Not a single strand of these creations is out of place. Every one of them looks like a European footballer on game day.

It took a few hours of walking around to realize where I’d seen such things before: at any given moment, 7 days a week, the entire city of Havana looks like a Pitbull video.

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But when you’re in the streets, somehow, these would-be background dancers are just that – background. The city itself is the star.

Four story buildings packed around cobblestone streets, each formerly painted some neon shade of orange, green, blue or pink, but now faded to a more charming pastel. The famous classic cars, often pouring smoke out the rear end, rattling around on a hundred amateur tune-ups. Some look their age, and others have gorgeously maintained paintjobs, but both are charming in their own way.

I was admiring one of these cars – a ‘50s Thunderbird convertible, painted cherry red with white and chrome accents, exactly like the one every man grew up imagining – when a woman walked by. She was following her city’s traditions, wearing a skirt that would have gotten her suspended from most middle schools and excommunicated from the Baptist church.

As she passed a group of four men – each wearing designer reflective sunglasses and two metric tons of hair gel – every single male’s head turned to follow her ass, like puppies watching their owner with a treat. The woman caught them, looked back and, without breaking stride and wearing a sly smile, gave them a quick half twerk. The men started leaping and cheering like they’d just won the World Cup.

Moments later, the Thunderbird fired up in a cloud of black soot that’d send the American EPA into cardiac arrest. Then, as it drove past, the driver threw a Coke can out the top, over the passenger side, landing on the sidewalk and stopping right at my feet.

Yup. Totally turned on right now.

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photo: street near the capitol building in havana

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.
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Stories from abroad by Malcolm Freberg. All the joy and scares and barely believable nonsense you can find after stepping out your front door, and some other written work besides. Gratuitous drinking mentions throughout.
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